1824 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lord Byron

J. B., "Fragment" St. James's Chronicle (15 July 1824).



— I went to look
On BYRON'S awful manes — 'twas a sight
Which all my spirit to its centre shook—
Grand, glorious, passion-moving, still, — the blight
Of Death was there; but who could bear or brook
Such a Sun, clouded in so dark a night?
Not I — I gazed upon his fearful sleep,
And tried to weep; but O! I could not weep.

Yet, he was pale and ghastly! — nought was left,
But that high intellectual forehead, crown'd
With a few dark grey hairs — his lips bereft
Of all their bitter scorns! — his eyelids bound
In mists, and all his glories chilled and cleft—
For solitude and gloom were gathered round—
Save that poor pageantry, and vain parade,
Which the dull gloominess far gloomier made.

I turned away — my heart was sick — even now
His shade pursues me in my dreams! — I know
That he had evil in him — but to bow
To tyrants — but to fawn upon the foe
Of Freedom — but to proffer up a vow,
For aught, not man's most sacred interests — No!
This BYRON never did. Ye slanderers, tell
If ye have served the cause of man so well!

I watched him when his light was like the gleaming
Of a gay tremulous meteor o'er the sea—
I watched him when his noontide rays were streaming
In all their lustre from Thermopylae.
I could have then adored him — almost deeming
He was a re-awakened Deity,
Out of the sacred tombs that Greece has reared
To names — whose shadows now have re-appeared.

'Twas there he died — fit grave! — and there his form
Shall oft walk forth, when o'er Parnassus' head
There gathers from the clouds some awful storm,
He shall be seen, in whiterob'd garb to tread!
And breathing eloquent sounds to wake and warm
The Heroic Greek; and for the patriot dead
Shall chaunt a hymn of liberty! — as when
His fire-touch'd harp was heard by mortal men!